Stories of Resistance in Greek Street Art: A Cognitive-Semiotic Approach
In line with cognitive semiotics, this paper suggests a synthetic account of the important but controversial notion of narrative (in street art, and more generally): one that distinguishes between three levels: (a) narration, (b) underlying story, and (c) frame-setting. The narrative potential of street art has not yet been considerably studied in order to offer insights into how underlying stories may be reconstructed from the audience and how different semiotic systems contribute to this. The analysis is mainly based on three contemporary street artworks and two political cartoons from the 1940s, involving the same frame-setting, which may be labeled as “Greece vs. Powerful Enemy.” The study is built on fieldwork research that was carried out during several periods in central Athens since 2014, including photo documentation and go-along interviews with street artists. The qualitative analyses with the help of insights from phenomenology show that single static images do not narrate stories themselves (primary narrativity), but rather presuppose such stories, which they can prompt or trigger (secondary narrativity). Notably, the significance of sedimented socio-cultural experience, collective memory and contextual knowledge that the audience must recruit in order to reconstruct the narrative potential through the process of secondary narrativity is stressed.
Georgios Stampoulidis, Lund University, Centre for Language and Literature, Division for Cognitive Semiotics, Lund, Sweden
Georgios Stampoulidis is a PhD candidate at the Division for Cognitive Semiotics at Lund University. His research interests are in the fields of polysemiotic communication and multimodality, narrative and metaphor, and urban creativity. His work focuses on street art as a cross-cultural medium of meaning-making, cultural production and political intervention in urban space, and thus, he has previously conducted fieldwork in Athens, Greece. His most recent publications are “A Cognitive Semiotic Exploration of Metaphors in Greek Street Art” (Cognitive Semiotics, 2019) and “Urban Creativity in Abandoned Places. Xenia Hotels Project, Greece” (Nuart Journal, 2019). Currently, he is research fellow at Urban Creativity Lund and Scandinavian Metaphor networks.